The changing landscape of emergency volunteering in Australia

HazardNOTES

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Mud Army and SES volunteers working together at the 2011 Queensland floods. Photo: Queensland Fire and Emergency Services
Mud Army and SES volunteers working together at the 2011 Queensland floods. Photo: Queensland Fire and Emergency Services

As our way of life changes, the way we volunteer is changing too, presenting both challenges and opportunities for emergency service organisations. Hazard Note 27 identifies four key largescale forces reshaping the nature of volunteering in the 21st century. These are changing lifestyles and values and the changing nature of work; the impact of new communications technology; greater private sector involvement; and growing government expectations of and intervention in the voluntary sector.

Five key areas of focus have also been identified to best capitalise on emerging opportunities, providing evidence and impetus to shift away from a reliance on traditional, structured volunteering models, to models that are more flexible, adaptive and inclusive of newer and diverse volunteering styles.

Emergency service organisations are aware of this shift in the volunteering landscape and its impacts, and in some instances are already responding. Findings from the Out of uniform project are being used to address these areas, with change makers at organisational, jurisdictional and national levels driving a shift towards more flexible, adaptive and inclusive volunteering models.

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